Lady Vols get back to practice

The Lady Vols got back to practice Tuesday after a successful road trip and a day off. Go inside with Inside Tennessee for the latest on the team.

Tennessee gets to stay in town for the final week of the regular season with two important games to close out SEC play. The Lady Vols are well positioned in the league standings right now and don't want to stumble at home.

"No, we don't," Assistant Coach Dean Lockwood said. "But when you play a game you can't think like that. You've got to play the game just like you attack every other team."

First up is Arkansas, which comes to Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday for a 7 p.m. Eastern tipoff (TV: FS-South), and brings a record of success, having won nine of its past 10 games after a horrid start in the SEC.

"I am very impressed with what they've done," Lockwood said. "They have my full respect. That was a fork in the road for them. They could have tanked. They really regrouped.

"It is very impressive to see what they have done. They have my full respect. I respect this team a great deal."

The Lady Vols spent Tuesday working mostly on their stuff – including scrimmages against the male practice team – with some attention also paid to the specifics of the Razorbacks.

"We did a lot of us," Lockwood said. "We went up and down a lot. We had three different segments against the guys and we went live (simulated game conditions).

"We broke down some of their stuff. We did a little bit of Arkansas."

Wednesday will be used for Arkansas preparation, and the coaches will decrease the tempo – Tuesday was full court and a fast pace with a weight-lifting session afterwards – to ensure legs are rested for game day.

Tennessee closes the regular season with Senior Day on Sunday and will host Florida with tipoff at 3:30 p.m. Eastern (TV: ESPNU). The Gators beat Georgia over the weekend to even their SEC record and are making a case for an NCAA Tournament berth.

The SEC is better this season – Tennessee romped undefeated through the conference last year, getting really tested only by Kentucky and Vanderbilt – and should get at least six teams in the tourney and up to eight, with Arkansas and Florida making their statements this past month.

"They are one of the scrappiest teams in the league right now," Lockwood said of Florida.

Lockwood is putting together the scouting report for both Arkansas and Florida, so he watched the Gators and Georgia with more than a passing interest on Sunday.

"They don't die," Lockwood said, setting up one of his descriptive analogies. "You've got to shoot them five times in the head, cut their head off, set them on fire and then maybe, maybe, maybe, they're dead.

"They just don't die. I love that about them."

Tennessee has had its share of challenges in the SEC this season and has been tagged with three losses – Kentucky, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Even the wins have felt like alley fights most of the time.

"That is how I feel," Lockwood said. "I don't go into any game feeling (safe). I feel like every game is a brawl.

"I think the talent level is probably as evenly distributed as it's been in some time. I think there are some programs that have been building and now they've turned a corner.

"This league has gotten to the point where the top five, six, you might as well flip a coin on a given night."


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